Eating a diet that emphasizes vegetables, fruits and whole grains, known as a DASH diet, can help reduce the risk of depression. The links between depression and diet are increasingly being explored.
A study presented at the American Academy of Neurology indicates that study participants who closely adhered to a diet similar to the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet were less likely to develop depression than those who did not follow the diet. . As a reminder, the DASH diet promotes fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean dairy products, and it limits foods high in saturated fats and sugars.
Evidence is mounting linking the adoption of a healthy lifestyle to lower rates of depression. This study sought to examine the role diet plays in preventing depression. The study assessed a total of 964 participants (average age: 81) each year for approximately six and a half years. Each participant was monitored for symptoms of depression and completed questionnaires about their diet. The researchers also determined the types of diet adopted by the participants (DASH, Mediterranean diet, traditional Western diet).
The closer to DASH, the better
The researchers categorized the participants into three groups based on their degree of adherence to these diets. Those who were in the two groups who followed the DASH diet more closely were 11% less likely to develop depression than people in the group who did not follow the diet closely. Conversely, the researchers found that the longer people followed a Western diet, the more likely they were to develop depression.
The study does not establish a causal link, it only shows an association. Further studies are now needed to confirm these findings and to determine the best nutritional components of the DASH diet to prevent depression later in life.